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Foreign Intervention and Violence Against Women

Janet Elise Johnson


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Comment on this article   More than two decades have passed since non-Western feminists issued their first postcolonial critiques of universal claims about women's oppression (e.g. Spivak 1988 ; Mohanty 1991 ). They argued that such claims, even from well-intentioned feminists from the Global North, have justified a history of self-serving interventions into non-Western contexts that have proven disastrous for local women. Collapsing the differences among women from the South and seeing all of “their” problems as the same as those in the North has meant that development projects mimicked older colonial projects that were justified with claims of helping the local women as part of modernizing campaigns. Over the last few decades, it has become clearer that many of these colonial interventions ignored and replaced local gender structures that empowered women. They also provoked nationalist resistance, often inscribed on to women's lives or bodies, leading to the re-institutionalization of even worse gender injustice. For example, sati (the ritualized burning of a widow on her husband's funeral pyre practiced among some Hindus of a certain caste in only some regions of India) was used as an indication of Indian lack of civilization in order to justify British colonialism and obfuscated the more prevalent problems of domestic violence and femicide in India and in Britain ( Narayan ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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